A Systems Science Approach to Building Sustainable Low-Carbon Economies

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A very clear scientific message has emerged from the work over the past decade on climate science and anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions: reduce the environmental burden by roughly 90% in 3 – 4 decades. This target requires a complete ‘reboot’ of how energy and economic systems are envisioned and implemented. Beyond a needed tighter relationship between life-cycle energy costs and benefits, and beyond an also necessary true integration of social science and behavioral research,  the social and environmental impacts of energy systems must become the crux of the development and deployment process.  To do this, working examples at all scales will be needed.  In this talk, we explore viable, transformative examples of this reconfiguration from household to national and regional scale.

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Sustainable Design, Case Study – SmartCity Kochi | India

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SmartCity Kochi is a project of TECOM investments (SmartCity Dubai) in association with the State Government of Kerala in India. The project marks the next step in the evolution of an international brand of IT Campus projects focused on creating high-quality workplaces for international knowledge industries.

In Kochi, Smart City is located on a one square kilometer riverfront site with some extreme topography and some extreme environmental challenges. By definition, sustainable design is a central theme in the planning and design of the site, in keeping with the brand name “SmartCity”, and its international profile and appeal. Robert Marshall, Global Director of Planning & Landscape for B+H Architects, has been leading the design and planning of the SmartCity Kochi project and will discuss some of the challenges, issues and opportunities associated with the design of a sustainable high-tech campus in southwest India

How Buildings That Imitate Earth’s Creatures Could Save Us From Ourselves | Haiti

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Ultimately, the goal is to shift our designers’ perspectives from self to place. HOK’s team used this approach while working with biologists at Biomimicry 3.8 on an urban commercial center in Brazil. This project had a glass building facade outfitted with slanted blades offering shade from the sun. We wanted to develop a system that, like the Brazilian rainforest, would reject heat while returning water to the atmosphere. When we realized that changing the horizontal blades to spirals would atomize cascading water, sending it back into the surrounding environment, it dawned on me: the building could reject heat and conserve water. This multifunctional capability is ever-present in nature but often ignored or even rejected in our compartmentalized world.

Conflicting Visions of Sustainable Development: Struggles over the Production of Eco-Cities in Dakar | Senegal

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The concept of sustainability has been invoked to advocate a wide variety of environmental and economic development projects. Most recently, calls for the ‘sustainable development’ of urban centers in the global South have sought to address environmental and social problems associated with informal housing settlements. This presentation examines debates –among a variety of public and private actors- over how to counteract the proliferation of informal housing settlements and manage natural resources in Senegal’s rapidly urbanizing Dakar Region. In doing so, I draw from ethnographic research and textual analysis to examine conflicts that have developed over how sustainable development should be practiced in urban Dakar. Through an examination of several conflicts that have developed from recent efforts to plan and construct ‘eco-cities’, I argue that actors are struggling over a/how to best preserve urban farmland and floodplains and b/the extent to which middle-class and elite housing estates should be integrated into urban development strategies. In addressing the outcomes of these struggles over sustainable urban development, I contend that these conflicts are reconfiguring Dakar’s urban landscape and increasing urban poverty and inequality.